Pentagon directive authorizes military forces against civilians — Was considered for use in Bundy standoff

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Frank DuBois, past NM Sec. of Agriculture, former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, and a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior.

Frank DuBois.

A 2010 Pen­ta­gon direc­tive on mil­i­tary sup­port to civil­ian author­i­ties details what crit­ics say is a trou­bling pol­i­cy that envi­sions the Oba­ma administration’s poten­tial use of mil­i­tary force against Amer­i­cans. The direc­tive con­tains non­con­tro­ver­sial pro­vi­sions on sup­port to civil­ian fire and emer­gency ser­vices, spe­cial events and the domes­tic use of the Army Corps of Engineers.

The trou­bling aspect of the direc­tive out­lines pres­i­den­tial author­i­ty for the use of mil­i­tary arms and forces, includ­ing unarmed drones, in oper­a­tions against domes­tic unrest. “This appears to be the lat­est step in the administration’s deci­sion to use force with­in the Unit­ed States against its cit­i­zens,” said a defense offi­cial opposed to the directive.

Direc­tive No. 3025.18, “Defense Sup­port of Civ­il Author­i­ties,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that U.S. com­man­ders “are pro­vid­ed emer­gency author­i­ty under this directive.”

Fed­er­al mil­i­tary forces shall not be used to quell civ­il dis­tur­bances unless specif­i­cal­ly autho­rized by the pres­i­dent in accor­dance with applic­a­ble law or per­mit­ted under emer­gency author­i­ty,” the direc­tive states. “In these cir­cum­stances, those fed­er­al mil­i­tary com­man­ders have the author­i­ty, in extra­or­di­nary emer­gency cir­cum­stances where pri­or autho­riza­tion by the pres­i­dent is impos­si­ble and duly con­sti­tut­ed local author­i­ties are unable to con­trol the sit­u­a­tion, to engage tem­porar­i­ly in activ­i­ties that are nec­es­sary to quell large-scale, unex­pect­ed civ­il dis­tur­bances” under two conditions.

The con­di­tions include mil­i­tary sup­port need­ed “to pre­vent sig­nif­i­cant loss of life or wan­ton destruc­tion of prop­er­ty and are nec­es­sary to restore gov­ern­men­tal func­tion and pub­lic order.” A sec­ond use is when fed­er­al, state and local author­i­ties “are unable or decline to pro­vide ade­quate pro­tec­tion for fed­er­al prop­er­ty or fed­er­al gov­ern­men­tal functions.”

Fed­er­al action, includ­ing the use of fed­er­al mil­i­tary forces, is autho­rized when nec­es­sary to pro­tect the fed­er­al prop­er­ty or func­tions,” the direc­tive states. Mil­i­tary assis­tance can include loans of arms, ammu­ni­tion, ves­sels and air­craft. The direc­tive states clear­ly that it is for engag­ing civil­ians dur­ing times of unrest.

A U.S. offi­cial said the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion con­sid­ered but reject­ed deploy­ing mil­i­tary force under the direc­tive dur­ing the recent stand­off with Neva­da ranch­er Cliv­en Bundy and his armed sup­port­ers. Mr. Bundy is engaged in a legal bat­tle with the fed­er­al Bureau of Land Man­age­ment over unpaid graz­ing fees. Along with a group of pro­test­ers, Mr. Bundy in April con­front­ed fed­er­al and local author­i­ties in a stand­off that end­ed when the author­i­ties backed down…more

FA Note:  Frank DuBois served as the NM Sec­re­tary of Agri­cul­ture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a for­mer leg­isla­tive assis­tant to a U.S. Sen­a­tor, and a Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Inte­ri­or. Frank DuBois’ wor­thy com­ments below fol­lowed his post above.

Any­more, I don’t know what to believe. This, how­ev­er, is from the reg­u­lar fea­ture Inside The Ring by Bill Gertz, a well-known reporter, colum­nist and author. Fur­ther, the com­ments and analy­sis are based upon a pub­lic doc­u­ment.

If accu­rate that mil­i­tary force was “con­sid­ered but reject­ed” under the direc­tive in the Bundy sit­u­a­tion, that leads to sev­er­al ques­tions: Who request­ed that mil­i­tary force be con­sid­ered? BLM? DOI? Who in DOD con­sid­ered the request, and on what grounds did they reject it?

This, of course, leads us back to the ques­tions we’ve asked before on the Bundy oper­a­tion. At some point, those ques­tions need to be answered too, as do the .

In the mean­time, the fol­low­ing back­ground infor­ma­tion and inven­to­ry com­pi­la­tion for each land or water man­age­ment agency (For­est Ser­vice, BLM, USFWS, NPS, EPA, BOR, NOAA) would be help­ful to the public:

° The statu­to­ry def­i­n­i­tion of law enforce­ment officer
° The leg­isla­tive or oth­er author­i­ty autho­riz­ing each agency to have LEOs
° The leg­isla­tive author­i­ty of each agency to con­tract for law enforce­ment services 
° The chain of command/management struc­ture for law enforce­ment in each agency or department.
° The num­ber of LEOs in each agency
° The num­ber and type of weapons owned by each agency
° The amount and type of ammu­ni­tion owned by each agency
° The num­ber and type of vehi­cles owned by each agency
° The num­ber and type of spe­cial equip­ment, includ­ing attack dogs, owned by each agency
° The num­ber of SWAT teams in each agency
° The most recent annu­al appro­pri­a­tion for law enforce­ment for each agency or department

A report with the above infor­ma­tion, includ­ing totals, would not inter­fere with any ongo­ing cas­es, would clar­i­fy some issues and make sure the pub­lic and Con­gress have accu­rate infor­ma­tion as they con­tem­plate this issue.